kibosh

To put the “kibosh” on something means put an end to; dispose of decisively; finish something off; reject.

Several theories exist as to the origin of the word in the early 1800s.

Stephen Goranson of the American Dialect Society has suggested that it may be from the Arabic qurbāsh, Turkish qirbāch, or French courbache, which is spelled as “kurbash” in English, though he also found an example spelled “kibosh” in an 1892 book. This is a whip about a yard long, made of hippopotamus or rhinoceros hide. The kurbash was known in English works before the 1830s. However, it probably wasn’t well known to the people of the London streets, where “kibosh” clearly originated.

A kibosh may have been a clogmaker’s tool. In 2011 the American researcher David L. Gold published a long discussion of kibosh in a Spanish journal. He had been told that bosh was once a clogmakers’ term for a heated iron bar used to soften and smooth leather. A mid-1800s newspaper reported on the testimony in the Clerkenwell Police Court in east London in a case in which a clogmaker was set upon by others in the same trade as the result of a union dispute, in which a kibosh was allegedly used as a weapon: “I did not speak to Bamforth. I did not challenge him to fight, nor did I strike him or knock him down. I know what a kybosh is (a laugh). It is a piece of iron about a foot long; but I did not use one.” (Lloyds Weekly Newspaper, 14 Oct. 1860)

However, the most likely explanation is that “kibosh” is of Irish origin and means “cabbage.” No kidding!

According to The Phrase Finder (https://www.phrases.org.uk/), “It is Cork City slang coming from the Irish for cabbage, cabáiste, pronounced ki-boshta. From about 1750 to 1914 there was a large cabbage market in Cork City; large amounts of cabbage were exported to the German states and the Low Countries. The cabbages were auctioned off to various merchants in a large warehouse. To start the auction, a large hollow silver cabbage (the Cabáiste) was placed on the auction block and next to it a sample cabbage from the lot to be sold. When the auction was finished the Cabáiste was then placed over the cabbage on display. This was known as putting the Cabáiste on it. This came to be pronounced ‘kibosh’ on the streets and meant the finish of something. Up until 1922 many English regiments served in Cork City and many West Country regiments of foot must have been there. They would have used the slang and taken it with them to their native shore.”

The word traveled to Canada, too. From the Winnipeg Free Press, June 12, 2010: “We had been invited to Whiteshell Provincial Park by the Three Fires Society to participate in a special First Nations ceremony at a remote, sacred site. Record amounts of rainfall that morning, on top of an access trail already compromised by all-terrain vehicles, effectively put the kibosh on the proceedings.”

And now I will put the kibosh on this article.

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